You may not think that laughter and grief go hand in hand, but for one family, humor is the right kind of medicine for dealing with heavy loss.
Antonia Nicol, a London firefighter, delighted the Internet with a single tweet that managed to make hearts feel sad and happy all at the same time. The tweet, posted on January 16 and retweeted more than 40K times, shows an image of an extremely healthy houseplant in a white pot.
Before my mum passed away, she gave my dad strict instructions to water the plants in the bathroom. He's been religiously watering them & keeping them alive. They look so amazing he decided to take them to his new home, only to discover they are plastic! Can hear my mum chuckling pic.twitter.com/N87giD5zKT
— Antonia Nicol (@Flaminhaystack) January 16, 2018
Twitter users instantly fell in love with Nicol’s story. Not only were they amused by how funny her mother must have been, but how sweet and loyal her father clearly is.
Nicol tells Babble, “My mum and dad met at school when they were 16 years old and have been together ever since.” Her dad, Nigel Fitton and her mom, Phedre moved to South Africa and bought a nursery school together.
“They had a wicked sense of humor,” she shares, “When my daughter was 6, she sent them a picture that she had drawn of her naughty Grandad jumping on the bed and granny being shocked to see him do that. They loved the picture so much, they recreated it, took a photo and sent it back to my daughter.”
Nicol’s mom was diagnosed with cancer and fought it for five years before being admitted to the hospital where she passed away. Before she died, she left instructions for Nigel to water the bathroom plants.
“My dad was so overwhelmed with grief that he faithfully watered the plants for years,” she says. She explained that after a period of time, her dad finally moved into a retirement home and Nicol flew out from London to help her dad. That was when they discovered that the plants were actually plastic.
“It was hilarious,” Nicol tells Babble, “We laughed so much about it.”
“My dad talks about my mum a lot,” she shares. “We discuss her and talk about what she would like if she was still here.” Her tweet really struck a chord with the public and she thinks she understands why:
“Grief strikes families in a million different ways, but when this tweet went viral, there seemed to be such a common sense of togetherness which was lovely. People sharing stories of their loved ones that they had lost. People grieve but there is some comfort in knowing that other people are feeling the same pain of loss.”
Nicol’s father seemed to enjoy the attention as well, as evidenced by a follow-up tweet that features her dad reenacting his devoted watering.
Grief and humor are two things that every person can understand. And while they may not always be naturally thought of as fitting together, sometimes humor can be the one thing that helps us understand our grief.